My granddaughters in NY start their year of school today. Children here in SC have been in session for a week, and my grandkids in Georgia started two or three weeks ago. I can't imagine any child being thrilled to go to school in the heat of SC summers! I remember how 'lazy' we all felt toward the end of May and into June. As the sun climbed higher and shone hotter, our minds couldn't concentrate on studies. The windows were open and the noises of the world outside were calling to us to come and join, but we were stuck in the classroom.
As I wrote yesterday and have begun today, it seems as if my opinion of school was quite negative. I believe I'm misleading you in that. It wasn't my favorite occupation, but it was the job I had to do for twelve years, and I did it. There were many things about going to school that I liked. I'd feel guilty not sharing those.
While in grade school on Newtown Lane, we spent most of the day in one classroom, but when we had art or music we would be taken, 'Indian file', through the halls to those rooms. The art room was in the basement, two flights of stairs from the main floor. I always felt that I was in a cave on the way to my favorite class. Once there, I was thrilled to get my mind and fingers in gear, working on whatever the project was for the doing. Mr. Carpentier led us through the making of paper mache heads for hand puppets. He showed us how to make clay forms, which then would be put into plaster of paris molds, how to pour those molds, and to eventually come out with a plaster sculpture. We painted with tempera paints, sometimes to different types of music. We would allow the melody to fill our ears, and move our emotions, down through the brush until the 'mood' hit the paper. I remember receiving high praise for a cemetary full of stones, surrounded by a gloomy fog. The music was a classical piece in a minor key, probably with bassoons or oboes, and it felt sad to me. Since we were working in black and white paint at that time, it lent itself to the music and the mood. I also remember a day when my beloved teacher swatted me across the bottom in front of the whole class. I'd been talking when I shouldn't have been. It was an embarrasing moment.
Other moments worth mentioning... fire drills. When the bell would ring, the class would immediately jump to its feet and file, 'Indian style' again, out of the building with the teacher as the lead. We'd go outside, stand in whatever weather there was, until a bell rang again which signaled our allowance back into the building. Then, there were air raid drills. In the fifties, there was always the fear that we'd be atomic bombed by an enemy, Russia, especially. I'll tell you, I was a scared little girl even thinking about that possibility! Today I wonder how much protection we'd have had, kneeling on the floor facing the wall, and covering our heads with our little hands.
On another day in another blog entry, I'll share some remembrances of high school days. For now, I'll conclude this with the wish that my granddaughters enjoy their first days of school in NY.